Creating States: Studies in the Performative Language of John Milton and William Blake

by Angela Esterhammer

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division | August 10, 1994 | Hardcover

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Although the concept of the performative has influenced literary theory in numerous ways, this book represents one of the first full-length studies of performative language in literary texts. Creating States examines the visionary poetry of John Milton and William Blake, using a critical approach based on principles of speech-act theory as articulated by J.L. Austin, John Searle, and Emile Benveniste. Angela Esterhammer proposes a new way of understanding the relationship between these two poets, while at the same time evaluating the role of speech-act philosophy in the reading of visionary poetry and Romantic literature.

Esterhammer distinguishes between the ''sociopolitical performative,'' the speech act which is defined by a societal context and derives power from institutional authority, and the `phenomenological performative,'' language which is invested with the power to posit or create because of the individual will and consciousness of the speaker.

Analysing texts such as The Reason of Church-Government, Paradise Lost, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and Jerusalem, Esterhammer traces the parallel evolution of Milton and Blake from writers of political and anti-prelatical tracts to poets who, having failed in their attempts to alter historical circumstances through a direct address to their contemporaries, reaffirm their faith in individual visionary consciousness and the creative word - while continuing to use the forms of a socially or politically performative language.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 245 pages, 3.64 × 2.49 × 0.38 in

Published: August 10, 1994

Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0802005624

ISBN - 13: 9780802005625

Found in: History and Criticism, Poetry History and Criticism

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Creating States: Studies in the Performative Language of John Milton and William Blake

by Angela Esterhammer

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 245 pages, 3.64 × 2.49 × 0.38 in

Published: August 10, 1994

Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0802005624

ISBN - 13: 9780802005625

About the Book

A study of the language of visionary poetry, making use of the principles of speech-act philosophy to analyze the creative properties of utterance from the Bible to the work of Milton and Blake.

From the Publisher

Although the concept of the performative has influenced literary theory in numerous ways, this book represents one of the first full-length studies of performative language in literary texts. Creating States examines the visionary poetry of John Milton and William Blake, using a critical approach based on principles of speech-act theory as articulated by J.L. Austin, John Searle, and Emile Benveniste. Angela Esterhammer proposes a new way of understanding the relationship between these two poets, while at the same time evaluating the role of speech-act philosophy in the reading of visionary poetry and Romantic literature.

Esterhammer distinguishes between the ''sociopolitical performative,'' the speech act which is defined by a societal context and derives power from institutional authority, and the `phenomenological performative,'' language which is invested with the power to posit or create because of the individual will and consciousness of the speaker.

Analysing texts such as The Reason of Church-Government, Paradise Lost, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and Jerusalem, Esterhammer traces the parallel evolution of Milton and Blake from writers of political and anti-prelatical tracts to poets who, having failed in their attempts to alter historical circumstances through a direct address to their contemporaries, reaffirm their faith in individual visionary consciousness and the creative word - while continuing to use the forms of a socially or politically performative language.

About the Author

Angela Esterhammer is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Zurich, and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Western Ontario.

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